Criminal Justice

Hard Time for Others, But Not Hilton

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There’s one obvious reason why Paris Hilton was released from a California prison, after serving only three days of a 45-day sentence for violating her probation for an alcohol-related driving offense, many believe. Celebrity clout.

An undisclosed medical condition reportedly prompted the Los Angeles County Sheriff to release the 26-year-old hotel heiress and famous party girl from prison, instead putting her under home confinement in her Hollywood Hills mansion – where, the Los Angeles Times reports, she “was met by family and an assortment of gourmet cupcakes.” But that’s a far cry, of course, from the way most other prison inmates are treated.

“If you don’t have money, you’re just a number,” says John ‘China Joe’ Lofton, 51, who has personal knowledge of the subject. Lofton was released last year from Cook County Jail in Chicago, where he served time for battery, and “In there, if you’ve got something wrong with you they just give you cold tablets and aspirin,” he tells the Chicago Tribune. “I could’ve been stabbed and had a gunshot wound and I still wouldn’t have gotten out.”

Many criminals serving time “have challenges … that are far more critical than anything Paris has,” adds Bill Hing, a law professor at the University of California at Davis. “But they would never get this kind of treatment.”

Plenty of others agree, it appears. A Los Angeles supervisor says he has received more than 400 e-mails complaining that Hilton’s early release was “celebrity justice,” reports AP.

A court hearing is scheduled today to determine whether Hilton should be sent back to the slam and the sheriff held in contempt for violating a court order that she was not to be given home confinement. Hilton was to have been allowed to appear at the hearing by telephone, rather than in person, but that plan later changed. At last report, shortly before 11 a.m. Pacific time, she was being led from her home in handcuffs and put in a police squad car, according to AP, as cheering fans awaited developments at her home and the courthouse, another AP article writes. An airplane towing a “We Love Paris” banner drowned out some of the courthouse chants.

A copy of the motion filed by prosecutors seeking to put her back and prison and sanction the sheriff has been posted by the Los Angeles Times (PDF).

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